Two Foolproof Ways to Prospect in a Pandemic (Starting With a Pepperoni Pizza)
Sellers often come to me when they’ve hit a major stumbling block: a great potential client isn’t responding. In the last few weeks, it has been happening more often. Sellers asking for guidance are feeling frustrated, and often hopeless when they can’t reach potential clients.
I like to share with them this simple, yet powerful, story by Dr. A Jagan Mohan Reddy of a woman who bought a parrot to keep her company, but she returned it the next day.
“This bird doesn’t talk,” she told the owner.
“Does he have a mirror in his cage,” he asked. “Parrots love mirrors. They see their reflection and start a conversation.”
The woman bought a mirror and left. The next day she returned; the bird still wasn’t talking.
“How about a ladder? Parrots love ladders. The happy parrot is a talkative parrot.”
The woman bought a ladder and left. But the next day, she was back.
“Does your parrot have a swing? No? Well, that’s the problem. Once he starts swinging, he’ll talk up a storm.”
The woman reluctantly bought a swing and left.
When she walked into the store the next day, her countenance had changed. “The parrot died,” she said. The pet store owner was shocked.
“I’m so sorry. Tell me, did he ever say anything?”, he asked.
“Yes, right before it died,” the woman replied. “In a weak voice, it asked me, ‘Don’t they sell any food at that pet store?’”
Sometimes we forget what’s really important in life and in business. We forget to feed our pipeline which today is our lifeline. We get caught up in things that are shiny and exciting while neglecting what is truly necessary.
Lately, I’ve heard sellers say:
- It’s not appropriate to call now
- It’s marketing’s job to get me clients
- I don’t know what to say
- I don’t want to bother them
- No one is returning my calls
- It’s not their priority right now
- I left an email/a voice message… (ok, but did you leave a mark)?
People are busy today; they’re also afraid, stressed out, and overloaded.
It’s not that they don’t want to buy from you.
It’s just not their priority until you genuinely make it so.
So how can you get a hold of clients in a crisis?
- Be Creative: Here’s a story for you about my first really “big” deal, the one that launched my career.
2. Call out the Elephant in the Room– If you’re nervous or feel that touching base isn’t appropriate, tell the customer exactly that. A couple of weeks back, I listened to a podcast by emotional intelligence expert, Colleen Stanley, she recommended saying something like:
“I felt awkward reaching out because I thought you’d think I was trying to sell you something. I’m truly connecting to see how you’re doing at this time.”
“I’m honestly not trying to sell you anything. I may have a few resources and ideas that have helped several of our clients during the pandemic that may be of help to you.”
I tried this technique after texting and emailing a past client and got a response within thirty seconds! After a brief conversation the following week, we signed a large contract.
Now before you do this you have to make sure your intent is pure, that you really do just want to add value and be of service.
Today, intent trumps technique.
Now, I tell you these stories because it’s an entryway into your own creativity and authenticity. Since you’re a part of this community, I know you’re clever—and I know you’re genuine. That’s a powerful combination for standing out from the herd of salespeople and getting attention the right way.
Be more. Sell more.